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Through The Eyes of Researcher: Balinese Organized Group  

by on Wednesday, 17 December 2008No Comment | 1,155 views

Here is an interesting article on Balinese organized group and their significance in Balinese culture. This article is taken from Clifford Geertz’s paper, entitled “Form and Variation in Balinese Village Structure”.

seka manyi

The Balinese term for any organized group is seka; literally, “to be as one.” Thus the group of hamlet people is called the seka banjar, the irrigation group is called the seka subak, and there are seka dadia, seka pura, and so on. But beyond these formal, more or less obligatory groups, there are thousands of completely voluntary organizations dedicated to one or another specific purpose, which are just called seka. These cross-cut all other structural categories and are based wholly on the specific functional ends to which they are directed.

There are seka for housebuilding, for various kinds of agricultural work, for transporting goods to market, for music, dance, and drama performances, for weaving mats, moulding pottery, or making bricks, for singing and interpreting Balinese poetry, for erecting and maintaining a temple at a given waterfall or a particular sacred grove, for buying and selling food, textiles or cigarettes, and for literally dozens of other tasks. Many bandjars have seka for such highly specific purposes as hunting coconut squirrels or building simple ferris wheels for holiday celebrations. Such voluntary seka may have a half dozen or a hundred members, they may last for several weeks or for years, the sons inheriting the fathers’ memberships. Some of them build up quite sizeable treasuries and profits to divide among the members, some have yearly feasts of celebration, others even lend their earnings at interest.

matekap

As seka loyalty is a major value in Balinese culture, these voluntary groups are not just peripheral organizations but a basic part of Balinese social life. Almost every Balinese belongs to three or four private seka of this sort, and the alliances formed in them balance off those formed in the more formally organized sectors of Balinese social structure in the complex cross-cutting social integration characteristic of the island. From one point of view, all of Balinese social organization can be seen as a set of formal and voluntary seka intersecting with one another in diverse ways.

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